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flying without a broomstick

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He swore that he'd never say another bad thing about the Slytherins again, if only the stupid Quidditch League would just be over.

"Are you two still not speaking?"

James looked up, Remus standing in the doorway of their dorm room with a pile of books in his arms. Sighed. "It's not my fault," he said. "Sirius--"

"--started it, right," and Remus came in, sat on the bed. "You're like a couple of bloody five year olds."

"I'll apologize when he takes it back."

Remus started changing his clothes. "This is ridiculous, James."


They went down to dinner together, and Peter and Sirius were already sitting at the table. James made sure to sit down as far away from Sirius as he could and still be a part of their group, and Sirius didn't look at him once, though his back stiffened when he and Remus sat down.

Peter leaned over the table and hissed, "they still not made up yet?"

Remus shrugged. "Like a pair of bloody five year olds."

Poesy, a pretty fourth year, was sitting on Sirius's other side. She was giggling at him, and a bit red. James was scowling at the pair of them, and barely acknowledged Lily as she sat down - with a look of great distaste - a few seats away. Remus glanced from Sirius, to James, and back to Sirius again. Peter shook his head, stuffing dinner down. "'Five year olds' is being too charitable."

"So are you going to Hogsmeade this weekend, Moony?" Sirius asked, interrupting Peter. "Heard there was a bit of a band at the Three Broomsticks Saturday afternoon."

Peter glanced up from his food. "Really?"

Sirius nodded. "Heard about it in Transfiguration. Everyone's going."

Poesy went a bit pink at that. "Heard it'd make a nice date. Plus the final League scores will be announced that day, too."

"Did you now?" James said, amicably enough. He smiled at Poesy. "You know, fellows, I'd forgotten - terribly important prank, left the cauldron on to boil too long." He flashed teeth, grabbed a handful of bread and yorkshire puddings to wrap in his hankerchief. "You'll hear about it tomorrow, most likely."

"Cheers," Poesy called after him, with a half-wave. "Is he all right?"

"Oh," Peter said, "he's fine, I'm sure. Planning something, probably." Lily rolled her eyes, but ate in silence.

As they got up to go back to the Common Room, Peter murmured, "she had no idea that James and Sirius currently can't stand each other, did she?"

Remus fell back behind the rest of them, whispering, "I don't think anyone's noticed they can't stand each other. Still sit next to each other in classes, still copy the homework. Just aren't saying anything." He snorted. "Hell, if anyone did notice they probably figure it's some new scheme."

"Is it a new scheme?" Peter asked as the two of them grabbed chairs in the Common Room.

"Not hardly." Remus pulled out a deck of cards. "Sirius is behind the Wasps, James the Arrows."

Peter's eyes widened. "They've not been speaking for a week because of the Quidditch League Cup?"

"Cards?" Peter nodded. Remus started shuffling. "Far as I know. They were arguing about it on the way from Herbology last week, then yelling, then Sirius threw a punch and James hexed him. Haven't said a word since."

"Oh." Peter cringed at his cards, discarded three. "I thought it was because of," and he lowered his voice. "Lily."

"Lily!" Remus dropped his hand, forgotten. "What does she have to do with it?"

Peter leaned forward, over their little table. "Sirius mentioned that he thought she was a fantastic girl. Guess James was jealous. Same day, in Herbology, they started talking about girls, she came up." Peter raised an eyebrow. "You didn't hear them?"

Remus slouched down a little bit, trying not to look affected. "Guess I don't hear anything." He frowned. "Well, it's not likely that we're going to get them to make up any time soon."

"Why not?"

Remus jerked his head over to where Lily and Sirius were actually sitting next to each other, Sirius explaining some essay to her and Poesy. Peter cringed, hand over his mouth. "Yeah," Remus said.

"Well," Peter said brightly, "look on the bright side. Maybe it'll blow over."

James chose that moment to come down from their dorm. He paused on the stairs, looking at Sirius and Lily for a long moment, then turned around and went back up to bed. Poesy, face puzzled, asked something, and Sirius shrugged in response. Remus and Peter looked at each other. "Sure," he said. "Bright side." Remus slumped back. "Right."


Breakfast was sombre; Peter stirred his porridge and alternated between talking to Sirius about the front page of the Daily Prophet, and talking to James about the Charms homework, which was spread out beside his bowl. Remus kept quiet, too sleepy and apathetic to try and pretend like everything was all right, and too frustrated to try and get them to speak to each other.

The not-speaking thing appeared to be contagious. Peter spent a lot of time talking to himself.

Halfway through the meal, Sirius grabbed Remus's arm and dragged him off towards the greenhouses, Remus followed, stumbling, along behind, blinking. "The new plan is to outrun James, then?"

"Shove off," and he didn't let go of Remus's arm. "I just couldn't take it anymore, sitting there with Peter bungling to make conversation and James glaring at me."

Remus pulled away, and plopped down outside the greenhouse they were to be working in that morning. "So you drag me off without even enough time to take my breakfast with me?"

"Yeah, sorry about that."

"No you're not." He studied Sirius. "So when are you and James going to make up?"

"It's not my fault, he--"

Remus held his hands up. "Right, right. He started it. Course."

"Fuck off," Sirius muttered, slouching down beside Remus.

It was times like this, Remus thought, that a ten inch club and some thumbscrews might come in handy, especially since the full moon had only been a few days ago and he was still feeling sick. Definitely not up to dealing with this.

"What," Sirius said, "now you're not going to speak to me either?"

Remus sighed, inwardly rolling his eyes. A handy club, thumbscrews and possibly a ball gag. "I'm sleeping with my eyes open, actually."

Sirius grunted. "I can't believe that James is being this stupid about a bloody Quidditch team, anyway."

Remus was leaning against the glass of greenhouse four. If he shuffled around a little more, and pulled his knees up, and made sure not to lean too hard on the glass - eyes closed, he mumbled, "uh huh."

"And it's not like they're not a good team, he just won't admit the Wasps have a chance because he just won't admit that he might be wrong--"

"uh huh." The cobblestones were surprisingly comfortable.

"And it never would have gotten this bad if he hadn't stopped speaking to me like a utter git. He's being so stupid, I can't believe it."

"Sirius," and maybe, if Remus got him mad enough then Sirius'd get angry with him too, and he could nap in peace, "you threw a punch at him in the middle of class."

"And he hexed me for it! That's just playing dirty pool, pulling out a wand in the middle of class just over a stupid match. I don't know what his problem is."

There was just no shutting Sirius up, and Remus sighed, tilted over a little bit until he was half-leaning on Sirius. Much more comfortable, his head on Sirius's shoulder, and this way one ear was covered, too, the voice nattering on above him muffled. Much better.

"And you know, answering Lily and Poesy's questions about homework doesn't mean she likes me better than James, it's totally innocent, he's blowing everything out of proportion."

"uh huh," Remus mumbled, moving a bit and slumping against Sirius more. Class was going to start in ten or fifteen minutes, more than enough time to get a decent nap in.

Sirius poked him. "Are you falling asleep on me?"

Remus gritted his teeth. "I was trying, yes."

"Oh." a few seconds. "Why?"

"Because some great fool dragged me out of breakfast and made me run across the school to sit in front of greenhouse four?"

"Oh," and Sirius moved around so Remus could lie down on him properly. He was just drifting off when Sirius blurted, "You don't think I started trying to talk to Lily just to spite James."


"And James can't be angry with me about it, really, since she still can't stand me."

Remus cracked an eyelid, stared up at Sirius's face. He wasn't kidding. Remus replied dryly, "no, he hexed you defending the Arrows."

"Right, of course."

This was utterly ridiculous. Five year olds. Remus started idly contemplating ways to get them to stop speaking to him, too.


Three hours later and Herbology was over, and still Sirius hadn't given up. "I mean, Evans is interesting, not boring," he grumbled. "She might have horrible taste in best friends, but she's at least got a brain, and the fact that I know it doesn't have to mean anything."

Remus stared hopelessly after James and Peter, thinking longingly of the time when the most difficulty you'd have being friends with James and Sirius would be waking up a canary.


"Come on, then, Remus," and Sirius grabbed his elbow. "Don't you have to research that Transfiguration essay later too?"

Remus dropped his fork as Sirius jerked his whole body backwards. "I was actually going to copy it off Jame--"

"Right, of course," and Remus had to jump up off their bench to stop himself from falling backwards. Sirius was still tugging on him. "Let's go to the library."

Remus managed to break free of Sirius long enough to gather up some of his dinner and tuck it in the little sack he'd taken to carrying with him for that very purpose, and looked hopelessly at Peter. Peter looked back in sympathy.

James mumbled, "I'll see you later Remus."

Canaries, Remus thought miserably as the pudding appeared on everyone's table. He saw Peter sneaking some extra, and mentally cheered him. He missed turning into a canary.

Once they were out of the Great Hall, he rounded on Sirius. "You know, it's nice that you want to spend all this time with me, you great dolt, but for once this week I'd like to finish my blasted meal!"

"Sorry, I just." Sirius looked at his shoes. "James was depressing me."

"Oh, James was depressing you!" Remus heaved a breath, too angry to be at all tactful and not really caring if he was anyway. "Suddenly James likes someone - who, by the way, can't stand any of us - and it's depressing you."

"Basically." Sirius started trotting down the hall. "Call it stupid if you want. I can't help it."

"It's beyond stupid, Sirius," Remus called after him, trying to keep up. "It's insane. You know what's depressing me? My best friends fighting for no bloody reason other than they're stressed about exams and need some way to vent."

Sirius was actually heading for the library. "It's not exams." He stopped, and Remus glared at him. "I guess, I wish I had a girl who liked me."

This was what people with toddlers felt like, Remus thought. Toddlers who liked to run off with scissors every two seconds and steal your wand so they can hang themselves from trees. Continually slapping hands and saying "no, don't do that" doesn't make a lick of difference - the next day they do the exact same thing.

He thought about slapping Sirius for a minute, which was a little more cheering. "Look," Remus said. "A dozen girls like you. Stop honing in on James'. Getting a crush on Lily Evans is about the stupidest thing you could have done."

Sirius went into the library, and just in the short walk from the door to a table at the far back, a group of Hufflepuff girls started giggling and pointing, two Ravenclaw fifth years said hello to him, and even a Slytherin head or two followed him. "It's not even really, I don't have a crush on Lily." Sirius flopped down. "I just want someone like her. Smart, witty. Not afraid to stand up to me."

Remus sat down too, and with an eye out for the librarian, started eating the last of the roast beef and chicken he'd smuggled out of dinner. "I'm sure you know plenty of people like that."

One of the Hufflepuff girls, sitting at another table, leaned over and asked if she could borrow a quill, face pink. Sirius handed her one, and then when she asked if he'd help her with her homework, he stood up and stalked off. Remus threw her an apologetic smile, and followed him back out of the library.

"So, all right. Enlighten me. You just blew a girl off, and you say you're lonely?" Remus kept chewing his roast beef. "Why don't you take them up? They're practically drooling to get a lick at you."

Sirius sighed, ran a hand through his hair. "Like I said, they're stupid. That girl, she didn't have anything between her ears. At least Lily does."

Remus trailed after him, scowling. Toddlers at least came with leashes.


"James, come on!" Remus hissed, desperately. "The Wasps and the Arrows were both beaten, they're out of the running. Give it a rest!"

"It's not that," James said darkly, sitting in his desk and waiting for their Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. "He tried to make a move on Lily. You don't do that to a friend!"

"It's," Remus glanced around. "He says he's lonely, just likes Lily because she's a smashing girl. He doesn't really have a crush on her. Come on!"

"Sirius? Lonely?" James shook his head.

Remus grinned. "All right, I know he's being a bit daft, but how long are you two going to not speak to each other? Someone has to speak up."

"Yes, and it's Sirius - he has to apologize for trying to win Lily over." James shook his head again. "It's not like he can't get a girl."

Remus sat back, staring hopelessly at the blackboard as the teacher outlined the hexes they were going to learn how to block today. When Sirius and James ended up being the test pair, he winced. Peter covered his eyes.


"So Sirius will be out of hospital soon, though, right?" an anxious Poesy asked them.

Peter nodded. "Oh, yes, should be out after dinner. Not to worry, luv, he'll be fine."

"I'm so glad!" She smiled at Peter. "Hilarious class though. Sirius and James are always such kidders. Pity that it got a bit out of hand. Still, I haven't laughed that hard in ages!"

As she wandered away, Remus shook his head. "You know," he said, "I wonder if anyone knows that they're fighting."

Lily popped up from behind them in what Remus privately called 'prefect-in-training' mode. "Who's fighting?"

"Oh, no one." Peter shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortable. "How are you, Lily?"

"A bit surprised, after today's lesson, actually." She sat across from them, waiting for dinner. "I knew that those two were having a bit of a spat, but I didn't know it was this serious. I thought Potter was going to take his head off."

"It's just a broken wrist," Remus said gloomily. "He'll be fine in an hour or two."

"It's about you, you know," Peter added as he started dishing himself up some mashed potatoes. "The fight, that is. You should be flattered."

She raised an eyebrow. "A bit disturbed, actually. I haven't ever seen them fight. They're really arguing about me?"

Remus looked at the piles of food. He wasn't hungry at all. "Oh yes," he replied. "Sirius likes you. James is jealous. Plus the Wasps and the Arrows are rivals."

"That's a bit daft, you know," Lily said with a mouthful of peas. "Arguing over Quidditch. And besides," she added coolly, "I wouldn't date either of them if they were the last boys in the school."

Remus shrugged; he knew that, everyone knew that, except apparently James or Sirius. Lily was a smart girl, far smarter than he was apparently, as she had figured out a way to avoid the whole nonsense. He told her, "They're both ridiculous, what can I say."

"You all are." She tilted her head. "So how will you get them to stop arguing?"

James was coming over to them, having been made to stay behind in class for a few minutes. Remus leaned over, muttered, "tried talking, pleading, begging, threatening, and I personally am two steps away from physical violence. Good luck."


Lily was grudgingly helping Remus with the Potions homework that he never got a chance to copy from James, when Sirius came back to the Common Room. He didn't say anything then, but Remus and Peter glanced at each other. From the casual, cheerful look on Sirius' face as he marched right back out of the Common Room, Remus had a feeling that this wasn't going to go well.

In their dorm room later, Sirius rounded on James. "So Remus is allowed to speak to her, and I'm not?"

Luckily, no one else was around, so the yelling that ensued was witnessed only by the two of them. The fight itself started out logically enough, but deteriorated into episodes from before they'd even come to Hogwarts', things about toys long broken or lost, something about an enchanted bicycle. Remus and Peter were utterly lost.

As James pulled his wand out, Peter ducked. From across the room, Remus did the same. "Maybe," Peter called out, "we should leave the two of them to work out their differences?"

A hex narrowly missed Remus's bed. "What, and leave my belongings in the wake of this? Not bloody likely." He pulled his wand out and muttered a counter-spell as another hex went wide and almost fried his bedcurtains.

"This just might," and Peter had to pause to charm his bed, "be a good sign?" he called out. "They're getting their aggression out."

"Oh, yes," and the whole room shivered as James let go a curse he was sure they hadn't learned yet in class. "Great sign. Definitely."


That night they slept in a room that looked like a tornado had hit. Remus left the Impervius charm on his bed curtains that night. Not that he didn't trust the two of them. But he didn't trust the two of them. Not farther than he could fly without a broomstick.


The next morning was eerily calm.

Arithmancy, for which Remus had had to do his own homework with no help from the gallery - and for that he was incredibly bitter - was dull. No one spoke, and he, James and Sirius sat at the same table near the back of the room, and did the problems without one word. By the end of the class he was only a little nervous about sitting between them.

Lunch was also quiet. He, again, sat between the two of them, glancing first to his left and then to his right, waiting for the inevitable blow-up. When Lily sat down with Poesy, though, Sirius just got up with a smile and left, for once not dragging Remus along with him. Peter looked up, watched him exit, and looked at Remus, who shrugged. Peter shrugged too.

Runes, the three of them again, was just as quiet as Arithmancy. Remus mustered up the courage to mumble, "what the devil is going on between you two?"

James whispered out of the corner of his mouth, "I thought you wanted us to be quiet?"

"So you've made up?" The teacher glared at them for talking, but didn't say anything.

Sirius answered, "oh no. But we're being quiet."

Remus made a face, bending back over the Runes translation. "Oh." He sighed. "Smashing."


Quiet, the two of them were even more disturbing. They'd basically gone back to not talking, with either Peter or Remus in between them. Most of the rest of Gryffindor thought that the silence signalled some new great prank. Remus wished it did.

"At least we're sharing around the homework again," Peter said, tracing a star chart carefully. "That's something. I'm sure it'll blow over in no time."

"I've never seen them fight this much. I mean," Remus lowered his voice. "All over a girl?"

Peter shrugged. "She's a pretty nice girl."

"But still." They hadn't done any research on the Animagus transformations in almost a month; they hadn't even pulled any pranks in that long. "Sirius could have any kind of girl. He's handsome, and he's smart, and funny. Why in the world did he have to take a liking to Lily Evans?"

"Maybe because he knows her?"

"Stupid git." Remus sighed, pulling out a fresh parchment for his last essay. The teachers were trying to kill them with work, he could just tell. Sometimes he thought they were of the opinion that if the students could just learn enough, they'd be safe once they graduated. Remus wasn't sure that learning this much would do anything except fill his brain up before he was eighteen. "And stupid homework. If stupid Sirius hadn't been dragging me all over the castle trying to avoid stupid James, I might have had a chance to finish this earlier."

"Why'd you go with him?" Peter pulled his Astronomy notes out, giving them to Remus. "It's not like he needs a babysitter."

"I." Remus scowled down at the parchment. Two rolls on ancient versus modern wizarding customs, including examples from daily life as well as historical figures. "I don't want to talk about it."

Peter's eyes widened, and you could almost see the lightbulb go off above his head. "Do you like him?"

Stupid Sirius. "Shut up."

"I didn't know that you felt that way about--"

"Shut up."

Peter, to his credit, was handling the news fairly well. He went from bewilderment, skipped right past indignation and disgust, toyed with laughing for a long moment, but finally settled on pity. "You actually fancy him, don't you?"

Remus put his face in his hands, forgetting the essay. "I'm hopeless, aren't I?"

Peter nodded. "Oh, Remus, my boy. Do you know--"

"Of course I know!" he snapped back. "I'm not blind, just stupid." Peter looked a little hurt, and Remus sighed. "Sorry, just a bit touchy lately."

"So," and Peter was trying to act normal, "so you and he kissed, weeks ago, and now--"

"Oh, just shut it, would you?" Remus sighed. "Obviously Sirius is not an option, for me, so it's not the end of the world. I just want the two of them to be normal again."

"I thought it was just a joke," Peter said.

Remus kept his face in his hands. "It was."


Hogsmeade was supposed to be that Saturday, and that stupid band playing in the stupid Three Broomsticks. Ever since Peter had guessed that something was going on, Remus felt just awful. He hadn't ever said anything, because there didn't seem to be much point. James and Sirius were still fighting. And now Peter was eying him whenever he thought Remus wasn't looking, face still a mixture of amused pity.

To top it all off, Friday was Potions and they had to endure Slughorn's ten minute lecture about how brilliant Severus Snape was, and by suggestion, how stupid they were. Stupid, stupid school.

He was just considering escaping to the library to finish some homework that he wouldn't get to next month, when Sirius cornered him again. Sighing, Remus said, "I don't have time, right now, I actually have to study--"

"No, fine, all right, it's just, no one's speaking to me now." Sirius looked so genuinely unhappy that Remus hauled him along to the kitchens.

Life wasn't fair. He had another star chart to finish, extra Potions homework because Slughorn was convinced that they'd learn better if they wrote things down twice, and now Sirius wanted cheering up. "So," he said. "What is it?"

Sirius grinned as a bunch of house elves brought them cake and tea. "I want to make up with James."

"Good. Let's go." He started to stand up, but Sirius tugged him down again. Of course, it wasn't going to be that easy. Oh, no. Nothing could be that easy.


'Making up with James' somehow translated into 'taking a girl to Hogsmeade tomorrow'. Why this plan had to include Remus, Sirius never specified, but he followed along to the Great Hall at dinner and the Common Room afterwards, all the while Sirius muttering about James having to accept that he wasn't interested in Lily if he saw Sirius with a different girl.

Remus may have thought once or twice, your logic is strange and magical but not likely to work.

He didn't say it, however, hoping the urge to apologise, however oddly, would sort the fight out some way or another. He did say, "oh, give it a rest, Sirius," after he started talking about Poesy. "Look, just ask someone you like, and be done with it. I have homework to do and I'm fed up to here with the two of you."

He marched off. Stupid, stupid Sirius. Stupid James. Exams were coming up quickly and if the bastards were still fighting come then, he'd enlist Peter's help and staple them together until they made up.


Peter came into the Common Room to find Sirius reading his Transfiguration textbook with a dismal face. "Cheer up, mate," he said. "Hogsmeade tomorrow."

"I know," and his face didn't change. "I have to ask a girl to go with me so that James will stop being so stupid."

Peter flopped down beside him. "What now?"

"If I ask a girl to go with me," Sirius repeated, putting the textbook aside, "James will see that I wasn't going after Lily. Except, then I have to ask a girl." He stared around at the occupants of the Common Room.

Peter followed his gaze. There were plenty of pretty girls sitting around the room - sure, some of them were too young and Jesse was a sixth year, but, "surely you're not having trouble."

Sirius wrinkled his nose. "All the girls we know are stupid."

"Well." Peter thought desperately. This was why he was hanging around with James, and Remus was dealing with Sirius. James was far easier to handle, at least for Peter, who didn't have the bluntness sometimes required to talk to Sirius when he was being, as Remus so often said, stupid. "Is that bad?"

"If I ask a stupid girl out," Sirius replied patiently, "she'll want to keep going out with me. And then I'll have to deal with some stupid girl hanging about with us all the time."

"Oh." He was still having problems seeing what was wrong with this, but obviously the mere thought was making Sirius angry. "So what kind of girl do you want?"

"Just, someone smart. And witty. And someone not all silly." He looked dismal again. "And by tomorrow."

They called Peter not so quick, and it was often true. He didn't get marks that were as high as Sirius or James, he often struggled with homework. He knew that he wasn't as good in his studies. But the amount that he didn't know in class usually equalled the amount that they were oblivious in the real world. "Wasn't Remus following you around the castle all week?" Sirius nodded. "And he's at least as smart as you." Sirius grinned. Peter said patiently, "Well then."

"Well what?"

Peter eyed Sirius. "It sounds like you have someone like that already."


"Moony," Sirius said, running into the dorm room. Remus had hidden in there earlier, declaring that he was studying, alone, for the rest of the night. Sirius skidded to a halt. "D'you have a crush on me?"

"What?" Remus stared. He knew that Sirius was a bit daft, but this was off the deep end. "No, I know you far too well for that."

Impatiently, "Well, do you like me?"

Teeth grinding together. Well, he'd managed a half-hour of peace and quiet. "Sirius, I thought I'd already demonstrated the amount I like you by putting up with you for the last while." He placed his quill down carefully. "Not to mention the fact that I haven't strangled you or James yet, though the thought has crossed my mind more than once."

Same impatient tone. "Come with me to Hogsmeade tomorrow then."

More than daft, Sirius was daft and losing his memory. "We're already going together, you moron. Remember? You begged me to come with whoever you ask so that you don't have to deal with them, and Peter is--"

"No," and Sirius shook his head. "Come with me."

"And I told you, I am already." Perhaps something was wrong with his mind, had been put off-balance by one of James's hexes. He added, "You're acting very oddly."

Sirius sat down. "D'you fancy me?"

Remus blinked. Daft, dumb, and blind, not to mention insane. "What?"

"Well, I've been thinking. You're smart and witty, and you smack me when I need it." Sirius pushed his hair out of his face, and Remus wondered whether he'd fallen asleep, whether he was dreaming. Probably not. Insane, then. "We've kissed already, and it was nice. So, d'you fancy me?"

Remus finally caught on, and eyes narrowed. Daft, dumb, insane, and. Oh. "Peter's been talking to you. Goddamned, I told him not--"

"Shut up," and Sirius kissed him.


The band was stupid.

James almost had a fit when he saw Sirius and Remus walk into the pub holding hands, but Lily Evans smacked him before his jaw fell off, and walked away. Peter grinned at them both. Sirius said, "I knew I liked that girl."